Think about how many times you go to the supermarket to buy groceries. For many people, it is a once a week thing. For others, they find themselves visiting the grocery store a couple of times a week. No matter the case, you probably go to the supermarket with no thought or idea that you could ever be injured. However, thousands of people actually do deal with injuries every year, all in a supermarket. There are hazards that you may not even know about, and in almost all cases, those hazards could have been avoided.
Most Common Supermarket Injuries
Many people never even consider that they could be injured in a supermarket, but these injuries can happen in many different ways. Some of the most common supermarket accidents and injuries include:
• Cuts and lacerations from sharp metal on shopping carts
• Falls on entrance and exit mats that are bunched up, flipped over or slippery
• Falling on floors that are slippery due to ceiling leaks, refrigeration leaks, and spilled liquids
• Being injured by entrance and exit doors that do not work properly
• Getting hit by items falling from shelves
• Tripping over aisle obstructions such as boxes, fallen items, and pallets
• Tripping over cracked or uneven pavement in parking lots
• Getting food poisoning from products that are out of date or otherwise damaged
Any of these situations could potentially happen in a supermarket and most of the time, they will definitely result in a personal injury case.
Supermarket Duty of Care
Every state does have somewhat different laws, but for the most part, they are very similar. That way, supermarkets know what they are responsible for and you and your attorney would know how to handle things if you are injured. Every supermarket has something called duty of care. This means they are responsible for doing everything possible to make sure the whole premises will be safe from harm. This doesn’t cover absolutely everything though. It means that they have to take every precaution for foreseeable harm.
If you need a better idea of how this works, here are some examples.
Let’s say a stock person leaves a few boxes on the floor in the middle of the aisle. A customer trips and falls over them. This is considered foreseeable harm and the supermarket would be responsible for the injury.
Let’s say someone is shopping in a supermarket, an earthquake hits, and the customer falls and hits their head on the corner of a shelf. This would not fall into the realm of foreseeable harm and would not fall on the shoulders of the supermarket.
The moment that a supermarket breaches their duty of care, they are immediately liable for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses that could arise as a result of injury. However, if the supermarket owners maintained their duty of care, then likely they will not be liable for the injury.
Negligence and Proving Negligence
As with all personal injury cases, the actual burden of proving negligence falls on you as the victim. If you are injured, then you and your attorney have to show that the supermarket violated their duty of care in one way or another. This isn’t necessarily always as easy as it may seem. You will need proof of this, and that can take some work. That’s why you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled supermarket cases specifically.
What You Should Do
If you are injured in a supermarket accident, you need to know what to do so that you will have everything documented properly. This will make the court claim much easier to maintain, prove, and receive damages for. There are several actions you should take.
• To begin with, call for a manager in the supermarket. You need to make sure the manager sees the scene of the accident and is aware of what happened.
• Make sure the manager documents the incident fully. Stores require this type of documentation and probably already have a template for an accident report. You may have to ask the manager for a copy specifically.
• You need to ask for medical care too. This should be a top priority especially if you are seriously injured. Keep in mind that if you have a very minor injury, such as a scrape on your leg, then you likely will end up paying for the paramedic’s costs. However, if your injuries do warrant it, then you may need to be taken to the emergency room.
• See if you can find witnesses to the incident. If you had family or friends with you, then they could be witnesses, but so could employees and other customers. You need to make sure you have information from the witnesses if possible.
• Take pictures of your injury and what caused the injury as well. The more you can record about the incident, the better.
• Ask the store if they have surveillance cameras. It is possible that the incident was recorded, and you will want to get those recordings before they are erased.
• Get the insurance information from the supermarket. If you cannot get that information, then get contact information for the corporate offices.
• Always save medical bills and therapy records as well as receipts for anything you have to pay for – your care, information on lost wages, etc. Make sure your employer’s verification of your lost wages is recorded on the official company letterhead.
If you are injured at a supermarket, you absolutely should not get up and just walk away. This is the worst thing you could do even though you may be embarrassed. Sometimes, too, the injury may be more serious than you realize just because you had an initial adrenaline rush. Don’t just walk away until you have recorded the whole incident. The more time goes by after the accident, the harder it will be to prove liability. As soon as you can, you should seek out an attorney and then get started building your case.